The weekend was fast approaching and so was the question, “Where to go this time?” And that’s how we stumbled upon the thought of exploring one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites : Ajanta Ellora caves. These caves are placed in the outskirts of Aurangabad. From Mumbai, Aurangabad is at a distance of approx 7 hours by road (excl breaks and traffic) and is also well-connected by buses & train, which ply regularly on their respective routes.
Two days were what we had to assimilate the history of these impeccably carved caves. Although I’d been to Ajanta Ellora once when I was a kid, I couldn’t recall visiting this place before, making me further curious to explore them. After all the planning we set out on a road trip to Aurangabad, taking halts midway for meals and refreshments. Ajanta Ellora is consistently called out in harmony which had made me wonder whether they were a single set of caves. I was invariably under the impression that it belonged to just one set of caves but realized later on that they were completely contrasting, sharing two completely dissimilar stories, cultures and origins.
Aurangabad city lies between Ajanta Ellora caves. Both the caves are on opposite sides, making it strenuous to explore both these caves on a single day. Also there is so much of history and stories associated with each cave that it is difficult not lose one into the stories and go back to 3000 years ago when these caves were constructed.
Along with Ajanta Ellora, I also looked into Paithani Sari which is the pride of Maharashtra. Paithani is a form of sari named after Paithan (town in Aurangabad) and is unique to the Maharashtra. Woven by hand, it is one of the expensive sari in India, making it a privilege to own one. Aurangabad manufactures these saris. which are a status symbol among Maharashtrian women. Being inquisitive, I arranged a visit to one of the production centre of these saris. The factory owner was kind enough to enlighten about the entire process one needs to undertake to manufacture Paithani. He explained us about different materials used along with the quantity of each material to be used together. It was an experience to talk with the workers and grasp immensely about this art.
Ajanta which comprises of 30 caves is carved in U shape form of structure with each cave showcasing the various reincarnations of Buddha coupled with detailed paintings dating back to centuries ago. These caves encompassed numerous mysteries which were tough to decipher through ones naked eyes. The guide narrated the stories of the paintings and meanings associated behind the old constructions. It’s fascinating to imagine the perseverance and patience that was put into making of these caves when technology was unavailable. After spending few hours in Ajanta we were drained by mind and body due to so much of information & facts and so much of walking in the heat yet we were awed by the splendor of Ajanta before leaving the caves.
Ellora caves contains architecture depicting the Buddhism, Hinduism & Jainism culture which is divided into 100 caves of which only 34 caves are opened for the public. Out of all the 34 caves, the center of attraction was cave no. 16 which is famously called as the Kailasha temple due to its construction. This temple is carved out of a single rock and is the largest single monolithic rock excavation, dedicated to Lord Shiva. Ellora leaves you enchanted right on entering. I felt as I had stepped inside a time machine which took me centuries ago during construction of these caves. Every inch of these caves radiated vibes giving reasons to stay longer.
The architecture is surely spell binding and its difficult to believe that this temple was carved by our ancestors with such patience & precision, and without any technology, out of a single rock using the top down approach. The precise sculptures depict the ancient stories and although it’s near to Aurangabad, one can easily spend full day just admiring the precision and beauty of the construction.
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Have you ever been to Ajanta Ellora? Share your stories with me. Share this post with those who are planning to visit these caves. Also, don’t forget to explore this big & beautiful world. Okay?